How to Seal Dreadlocks

Properly sealed dreadlocks will maintain their shape until purposely undone.
... Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

While dreadlocks require minimal touch-ups from day to day, the key to their success is in the preparation. Once knotted and backcombed into the desired style, dreadlocks need to be sealed in order to maintain their shape. Synthetic dreads respond well to heat and can be locked in with a flatiron, while wax does the trick when working with your natural hair. Take the time to properly seal your dreads and enjoy your wash-and-wear style for months to come.

  • Wire coat hanger
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Flatiron
  • Dreadlock wax
  • Hair clip

1 Synthetic Dreadlocks

2 Fold the top inch

Fold the top inch of the dread over a wire coat hanger and tie two knots to secure it. Hook the coat hanger over a railing that is at eye level.

3 Turn a flatiron

Turn a flatiron on to the medium heat setting and allow it to heat up. A mid-level temperature will evenly heat the inner and outer portions of the dread without burning it.

4 Spray the dreadlock

Spray the dreadlock from the visible edge to the tip with water from a spray bottle until 70 percent damp.

5 Twist the dreadlock tightly from the root

Twist the dreadlock tightly from the root, moving it to the right. Stop when you reach 1/4 of an inch down the dread. Hold the end of the twist with one hand to keep it in place.

6 Grasp the top

Grasp the top of the twisted portion between the plates of the flatiron, and hold the base of the twist taut with your other hand. Twist the iron to the right, and all the way around the root of the dread. Move the iron slowly in order to produce steam and completely seal the dread. Repeat four times and move down to the next portion of the twist. Continue until the entire twisted section has been ironed.

7 Spray one

Spray one more coat of water over the bottom portion of the dread from 1/4 of the way down until you hit the tips. Twist the dread tightly from base to tip. Hold the end of the entire dread taut, and grasp the top of the unsealed portion between the plates of the iron. Repeat the process, twisting the dread to the right between the plates four twists at a time until you reach a 1/2 inch away from the end.

8 Press the bottom 1 2-inch portion

Press the bottom 1/2-inch portion between the clamps of the iron for two seconds, and release. Repeat 10 times to seal the tip. Repeat the entire process with each of your synthetic dreadlocks.

9 Natural Dreadlocks

10 Place one thumb

Place one thumb above each ear and drag the thumbs toward the back of your head until they meet. Clip the dreads that land above your thumbs to the top of your head with a hair clip. Start with dreads that are completely dry to avoid locking in moisture and causing mold.

11 Pick up a dime-sized amount

Pick up a dime-sized amount of dreadlock wax with your fingers, place it into your palm, and rub your palms together to distribute it. Only a small amount is necessary to keep hair in place. Using too much wax will weigh the dread down and cause buildup.

12 Lift a dreadlock

Lift a dreadlock from the bottom of your hairline that sits closest to the left side of your face. Place the root of the dread between your palms and roll your palms back and forth to coat the section completely. Move your hands down to the next unsealed portion of the dread and repeat. Continue until the entire dread has been waxed.

13 Pick up more wax as necessary

Pick up more wax as necessary, and repeat until all dreads in the bottom section have been coated, moving around the back of your head to your right side. A dime-sized amount of wax will be suitable for sealing between one and two dreads, depending on how thick the dreads are. Release the top section from the hair clip and repeat the process until all of your dreads have been coated.

  • Unplug your flatiron when you have finished using it.
  • Only reapply wax to natural dreads when you notice knots becoming loose. A strong wax will hold the shape through washing.
  • If you notice a white cast at the root of your natural dreads, lift the dreads straight out and aim a blow-dryer at the root for 20 seconds on high heat. This will melt the wax into place.

Celeigh O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. She has a Bachelor of fine arts from the University of Ottawa, as well as degrees in fashion illustration/design, digital arts and certification in hair and makeup artistry. O'Neil was a frequent contributor to Toronto's "Dialog" newspaper and has worked as an instructional writer, creating lessons in fashion, art and English for students of all ages.